Writer-director James Lapine will share tales from his Pulitzer-winning collaboration with Stephen Sondheim in a new book. Farrar, Straus and Giroux (a division of Macmillan) will publish Putting It Together: How Stephen Sondheim and I Created Sunday in the Park With George April 13, 2021.
The book will depict the two-year journey of getting the musical to Broadway, which began with a meeting between Lapine (then an Off-Broadway playwright) and Sondheim (following the end of a multi-year professional partnership with Harold Prince). As they searched for inspiration for a new show, they eyed Georges Seurat’s 1884 painting A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.
The characters in the painting—and the painter himself—became the subject of their story, and the show came together piece by piece up until and through a workshop run at Playwrights Horizons in July 1983. At the time of opening Off-Broadway, only the first act was presented. The second, which follows a descendant of Seurat (also an artist) a century later, was added in just the final few performances.
Sunday in the Park With George officially opened on Broadway May 2, 1984, at the Booth Theatre. Mandy Patinkin took on the role of Seurat (as well as Seurat’s great-grandson in the second act), with Bernadette Peters as his muse and mistress Dot (and later, the pair’s daughter). The production earned 10 Tony nominations, winning for scenic and lighting design. The following year, the show was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, becoming the sixth musical to receive the accolade.
The new book will feature anecdotes from the development process, conversations with Lapine, Sondheim, and cast and creatives from the original production, script notes, archival photos and sketches, and more.